Why I Returned to Schneider Electric – To Help Data Center Service Providers Gain an Advantage

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I’ve been in the data center industry in one form or another for 14 years and have seen many sides of the business. But I don’t think I’ve ever been as excited about an opportunity as the one I have in front of me now, helping data center service providers gain a competitive advantage by controlling costs, getting to market faster and managing risk.

Let me indulge you with a bit of history. I started in the data center business with a colocation startup that targeted Fortune 500 firms, large government agencies and the like. But the economy tanked and it didn’t quite work out. After that for a time I worked with private equity firms acquiring stranded dot bomb assets and flipping them to enterprise users. I’ve also done brokerage and some consulting with data center design-build firms.

About two and a half years ago, I was working for Lee Technologies, selling data center design, build, commissioning and facility operations services. These are strategic services, the stuff that can make or break a data center operator. Schneider Electric was impressed enough with the job we did that it bought the company in 2011.

This left me in something of a spot. Schneider Electric, of course, had lots of its own sales people and they are very good at selling Schneider Electric products. But I enjoyed selling services and the integration was going to take some time. So I took another job selling wholesale colocation.

About six months ago, I heard that my former boss at Lee Technologies, Mike Hagan, was creating the new Data Center Service Provider group at Schneider Electric. I reached out and we discussed the new vertical business model. I whole-heartedly drank the Kool-Aid and joined his team, once again helping to sell software and services.

Essentially, he offered me the same job I had at Lee Technologies but on steroids. I can now go into a service provider and offer consulting services on a pro bono basis to earn trust and vet potential engagements. If those engagements involve equipment, I can specify whatever they like, whether it’s from Schneider Electric or not (although obviously I can eliminate cascading margins by utilizing Schneider Electric technology). And I can also offer a top-of-the line data center infrastructure management product, StruxureWare, which can help them drive efficiencies in their operations.  If a client needs help with data center design, build, commissioning, operations or even energy procurement, we’ve got all that, too. The latter comes from our 2011 acquisition of Summit Energy, which provides energy procurement services and sustainability consulting, among other services.

What my job is really all about is helping data center service providers become more efficient. That may manifest itself in different ways, perhaps by driving down costs, getting a new offering to market faster or by getting better at finding new opportunities. The key is I’ve got a $30 billion company behind me to help in that effort, offering whatever a data center provider may need.

Here’s the real kicker. I can now tell customers that we can commit to delivering an all-in total cost of ownership (TCO) number over a period of 5, 7 or 10 years. That essentially takes all the technical risk out of their business plan. No other company can make that kind of commitment because no other company offers all the software, services and equipment it takes to deliver on it.

That’s why I came back to Schneider Electric – to have these kinds of business discussions with service providers and help them deliver the best possible product at the lowest possible price. I look forward to talking with you.

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